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Cops Say Conn. Copper Thieves Are Becoming Bold

April 21--BRIDGEPORT -- Police are asking residents to be alert after three separate daytime burglaries involving copper thefts and damage to property on Wednesday across the city.

Bridgeport Detective Capt. James Viadero said copper thefts have become an ongoing problem.

"With the price of copper at near-record levels, we've seen a lot of these incidents," Viadero said. "It's not just a Bridgeport problem either."

Copper is selling at around $4.25 per pound.

On Wednesday, police said they responded shortly before 9 a.m. to North Main Street, where burglars damaged front porch windows and a bedroom window while stealing copper pipes from the basement. The thieves also stole copper pipes from the furnace, damaging it in the process, police said.

About one hour later, a sliding door and basement ceiling tiles were torn down to get at copper pipes, which were stolen from the Bradley Street house.

The third incident occurred on Orange Street, where copper pipes were stolen from the basement and first floor of a house.

Police have not yet made any arrests and are investigating all three incidents.

Bridgeport police spokesman Tim Quinn said police in many communities have put out alerts this week warning people of the rash of copper thefts.

Viadero said people need to be vigilant.

"Make sure your home is locked and hopefully you have an alarm system," Viadero said. "Be on the lookout for suspicious persons or vehicles in your neighborhood. This is where organizations such as Block Watch are so helpful."

Vacant properties and buildings under construction are often the target of copper theft but it can happen anywhere, as seen by Wednesday's incidents, police said.

Last week, in Norwalk, three city residents with histories of drug and theft convictions were charged after being caught selling $4,000 worth of stolen copper to a scrap metal recycler. The three allegedly stole the copper from a gas station.

In January in Bridgeport, a veteran police officer was badly injured after falling through a skylight on the roof of a city business, while chasing alleged burglars who had stolen copper from an abandoned home on Parrott Avenue.

Police are not the only officials warning against copper thefts. Late last month United Illuminating warned potential thieves that it is dangerous to attempt to steal copper from power lines, which can be electrified without the thief even knowing it. That warning came after a man became tangled in high rise power lines above Metro-North rail road tracks in West Haven and was injured.

Two men were arrested in late January after police said they stole copper from a Connecticut Light & Power facility.

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